I wasn’t in a position to listen to all of yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons on the question of bombing Syria but I did hear the first hour or so. And the impression I came away with the most was the arrogance of Prime Minister David Cameron and the condescension of the Conservative MPs. The behaviour of the Tory MPs generally, and particularly when Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was speaking, illustrated more than anything I have witnessed before their sense of entitlement to directing the affairs of the country. If this is supposedly what the best of education can buy through private schools like Eton, no wonder, then, this country is running itself slowly but surely into the ground. Those who pay high school fees should be asking for their money back!
It’s not the working class who are at fault. But those who believe that because of who their parents were, where they were schooled, and the well-heeled connections that go along with a privileged life — they are the ones who are responsible for much that is wrong with this country because they are in charge of it. They don’t want change or, rather, they only want change that benefits their class.
While some class privileges have been removed by Labour governments, the U.K. remains a class based country with very little opportunity to — and forgive the horrible phrase — upward mobility.
Moreover, the present Conservative government and its class war masquerading as the neutral fiscal policy of ‘austerity’ will do all it can to protect and reinforce their interests. As much as I would like the Labour Party to offer a viable alternative, I have yet to see it do so.
It is no wonder that I feel increasingly alienated, disengaged and excluded from Britain’s political discourse. Which, I think, increasing numbers of people also feel, if not exactly for the same reasons as mine.
I fear for Britain more than ever before, even more so than in the 1980s when we lived under the democrat dictatorship of Margaret Thatcher. All the benefits and securities of the welfare state, including the National Health Service — these social assets are being steadily sold off to private enterprise. Everything is becoming commoditised and packaged commercially to buy if it can be afforded. This corrosive impact is building a society in which a commitment to community is being eroded and replaced with competition and selfishness.
These values are, of course, the very opposite of what we need when everyone faces problems and challenges that transcend the barriers we have constructed politically and socially — namely climate change, replacing animal consumption with vegan, plant-based solutions to feed the world and foster health, and fundamentally address the pervasive, hidden violence in our societies.
What is to be done?